writers / writing

#IWSG–My Writing (Lack of) Progress

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity – I’m having a lot of trouble getting my book finished.

I finished To Hunt a Sub over six months ago. Then I sent it to agents and received requests for partials and fulls (in truth, many more than I expected), but ultimately passes (which made me wonder if my query was better than my novel. Who knows?). I gave agents almost three months to respond to the query and then figured I needed to move on. I started the process of getting it professionally edited, creating a cover–that sort of stuff to prepare for self-publishing. While doing that, I received two requests for the manuscript. I researched the agencies and they both seemed perfect for my novel so I put everything on hold to wait. They warned me it would be several months.

Plus, I got a nibble on another book I’ve written, this one historic fiction. For those who have followed this blog… forever… you’ve seen it around, but I’ve renamed it Lucy: Story of Man. I’m tempted to drop everything and follow the slender thread of interest I’ve gotten on this one. It, above all others, is my passion.

I know–it sounds positive–it IS positive–but I’m frustrated. I wrote To Hunt a Sub years ago. One thing after another got in the way of publishing (like a sequel agents liked better, other writing obligations, life–you know the sort). I can’t move on to my next novel while this one is still in action. I don’t want to start building a new story (with the research and characters and plotting that involves) and then have to return to this one for rewrites.

How do you-all handle that? Can you juggle lots of story balls? Should I figure out how to do that?

More updates:

How I’m Doing on To Hunt a Sub

How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’

Sneak Peak at my Upcoming Techno Thriller: To Hunt a Sub

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

72 thoughts on “#IWSG–My Writing (Lack of) Progress

  1. I had no choice but to put my current WIP aside to work on suggested edits for the first one, but because they are of the same series (of two), I suppose it wasn’t too jarring to do so. In a perfect world you wouldn’t have any stops to your work flow but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles many times, doesn’t it?😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do a little bit of both. Sub a bit and then write something new on the side. I always work on something else while I’m waiting. It takes my mind off things and I’m being productive. If one project doesn’t catch, I can depend on another.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve recently come into the idea of juggling a few stories at once. It helps keep the writing fresh. Otherwise, I grow bored and the words, stale. But I’d say you need to always work on whatever you’re passionate about. Whether it’s something you’re getting nibbles on, or something you haven’t shown a soul.

    Whatever you put your love into will become beautiful. It has to.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In my experience, immersing myself in another project reduces some of the stress. I’m not saying you should juggle lots of different things at once, but if Lucy and To Hunt a Sub are finished in the sense that you’re not going to physically work on them at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to explore something else. It doesn’t mean you can’t follow those threads, or provide information and chase up leads on the others – it just means you can have fun in the meantime. Of course, that’s just my opinion and, granted, I do have a tendency to juggle😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jacqui, on the advice of a family friend who has been oft published and won numerous awards in his genre, I did exactly what you’re wary of doing. I started a new book before I was quite finished with my first, then did the same with the second -started the third. I feel that keeping myself fresh by getting immersed in the subsequent books did two really important things: it gave me time away from the “first” books so they fermented. When I returned I saw them more clearly and made edited with better results. I now have three complete books and am finally ready to get into query mode for all.
    For me it worked well. Maybe just start to play with a new book, (so much excitement, like a new baby in the house, keeps you up all night, but all that love) then take a hard look at the one you must get done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you, Sharon. Jacqui, if To Hunt a Sub is a finished work that just needs the editing and polishing, I think you’d be doing yourself a favor to set it aside kind of the way you would let bread rise and get into the next project.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I agree with what Glynis says and get on with Lucy:Story of Man because it is your passion! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still come back to To Hunt a Sub as a change of pace and this time you might be seeing it with passionate eyes.
        You often hear of a writer getting published and receiving great reviews and the next thing you know is that he or she has another book out in a matter of months. My guess is that they’ve been working on these books for years and got their break. So, be ready for yours!🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it did work well for you. I wonder if part of the reason is because my two books are a series–yours are all stand-alones. Maybe focusing on Lucy (my paleo-historic fiction) would work.


  6. Well since I have yet to finish any of my stories, I’m probably not one who should offer advice on this subject. However, I think you should concentrate on whatever project appeals to you most at the moment. You never know when inspiration will strike. Good luck on the book. Thanks for co-hosting this months IWSG.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Not sure if this is helpful but sometimes stopping and asking myself what is my REAL need and why do I think I NEED it helps sort out what is most important for me to focus on.

    (An aside: Some of the time the process is ultimately more important, than the product but we get fixated in western cultures on product.)

    Your talent as a writer and the creative imagination you have – whether or not you are published – is pretty wonderful in and of itself in my book!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That does indeed sound frustrating.

    Congratulations on the interest though🙂

    I usually move on to another project between drafts anyways to give myself “fresh eyes” but if working on more than one project at a time isn’t you then it isn’t you and you don’t have to do it.

    Which probably means there is a lot more waiting up ahead:/

    That’s not bad though. More time to work on life and family and things like that🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This may not help – but just do what you feel is right. Intellectually, you can make the decision, but if your heart isn’t in it, it’s going to be slow going. So when new ideas present themselves wait until you’re excited and enthused about one – wait until it’s already writing itself in your head – then you know it’s right.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m terrible at juggling. For best results I have to concentrate on one project at a time.
    You sound good at multi-tasking, Jacqui. Suit yourself, or is there something you can work on that won’t be so involved while you wait you’ve been putting off? Sorry about the waiting.:-(

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I did try the whole ‘writing more than one story at a time’ thing, but then I found that either one idea would overpower the other so I’d just end up working on that one, or I’d lose interest in both. But I have found that working on something new between drafts keeps me enthusiastic about writing🙂. Good luck with your manuscript! I hope you hear back from the agencies soon.

    Rachel Pattinson
    February IWSG Co-host

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I like to work on one project at a time too, but once I send it off for querying, I start a new book. I know I’ll likely have to put the new one on hold in the future while I get back to the one I’m querying for revisions and what not, but it keeps me moving forward in the meantime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What happens when an agent loves it, but has a mountain of revisions? Can you mentally bob between the new story and the agent-interest one? The one time that happened (and now, again–with two separate books), I’ve been at a natural stopping point.


      • I’ve had to do that with both books once they found a publisher. Put the new one on hold while I tidied up and prepared the about-to-be-published one. It’s not always easy, but it has to be done.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OK, that sounds good. I have two books with agent interest–which doesn’t mean they’re taking me. One already sent revisions. So, I’d like to be ahead of the curve on managing my time wisely. Thanks for your thoughts, Carrie.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I hope you hear something positive soon – at least there is a lot of interest in the book. Why does it always have to take such a long time?! Partly a rhetorical question. Personally I imagine I would like to have an idea where my book is going before starting another one – but as yet I have no experience of that. As it is I’m keen on writing short stories for a change!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Follow nature and exercise diversity. I have similarly been challenged by the diversions of life. I wrote and self-published two books and started a third. Midway through the third, my father died, I met a new partner and I spent a nearly year up to my eyeballs in volunteer politics. Then, I had an amazing dream–I figure, a gift from my father and grandfather. It immediately became the thread for another book. I decided to give it a leg up, and an advanced place in the line of ideas. Then I had a couple of challenging and rewarding years relocating. Whew. Now I have two books partially finished and at least two more rooting around in the back of my head. Sigh.

    Here’s the deal, though. It’s a good thing. When engaged in the meditative tasks of building or gardening, my mind wanders in one of the two current manuscripts. I cherry pick the best of the wanderings. Both of the stories have benefitted from the hiatus–and I’m grateful to have both of them simmering in the background. Though I do not (yet) have chickens, I’ve decided not to have my eggs all in one basket. (I don’t know any applicable beekeeper aphorisms.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always thought that way–eggs in multiple baskets–and taught my kids that too. Things don’t always go right.

      I know you’ve just rattled off four–five?–book ideas, but you really need to write about your move to rural America. Building your own house, getting along with neighbors, herding bees–all that stuff. I eat it up and I’m quite sure a lot of other armchair do-it-yourselfers would too.


  15. On a boring note, I tried to comment on this via my “Reader” but no cursor appeared in the comment box until I thought to link via one of your own kind comments on my Blog which, as we can see, worked a treat. Anyway, back to the question:

    I am resolved, if I ever get there, to try and go the traditional route with an English publisher next time round, as I think that will help me get exposure on my own country, but your tales, and the stories of other authors I follow only underline how nervously exhausting this is apart from anything.

    One of the things I find with book writing is if you put it aside for awhile you can lose your sense of it, and plot can dry out, whilst if you write like a whirlwind at every available opportunity the first draft can flow from you. Owing to personal difficulties, my third book got stalled half way through to the point where I’m now saying, this is too vague now to persevere with and I should start afresh.

    Indeed, as you can see, I suffer from all the same doubts and difficulties as other authors but chatting on the blogosphere at least reminds us we are not alone🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Jacqui,
    I don’t know whether you know this, but John Gardner’s book, “The Sunlight Dialogues,” which was his first book took years for him to finish. During that time, other books that he wrote were published, but he kept on throwing The Sunlight Dialogues on the back shelf for various reasons.

    I am not yet a traditionally published author but hope to be soon. I can say that I have various manuscripts that I am working on. I am working on the manuscript with my writing coach that I want to send out to agents, but at the same time, I am revising my short stories, some for the twentieth time, and have begun sending them out.

    I would do both if I were you. I had to learn to do this. It is good that I learned it too. Sometimes, I get stuck in one manuscript and if I have another manuscript or article going on, it helps me get unstuck.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I think this is sound advice, Pat. That waiting on queries takes months–I couldn’t NOT write. Once I finish my big tech project, I won’t have that as a fall-back. I wish I wrote short stories. That seems a perfect fill-in.


  17. I too have a problem working on too many things at one time. In fact, I can only focus on one. BUT, when I start working on something new then have to return to an older work (rewrite requests etc), then I force the transition to myself. I have come to accept this as a part of the writing process. It wasn’t easy, and I’m not saying I always succeed at the transition, but, as I said, I force myself. If both projects are big, then I may take a day off from both, just to clear my mind. But for me the keyword is “force.”😉

    Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t at first, but I asked myself if I wanted my writing to lead me somewhere and where that might be. Also, whether or not I was willing to toughen up to rejections (I had just sent out my first submission for a short story at that time and got a rejection) and how much other people’s opinion would matter (to this day, writing is the only thing I allow others to have a say on something I do or consider doing). I had to think this through for several days, but once I had an answer, I knew what I had to do. I’m not saying this is how everyone should do things. Far from it. This is just what worked for me at that time in my life.


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